We've been chatting to Transcendit Director Dave Scott about Microsoft Teams for Office 365 - what it is, why it's useful and how your business could benefit from it.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is the modern way for people to collaborate. It's a cloud based application, which means it's available on any device that's connected to the internet. The app is designed to be a communications hub, making it easier for staff to collaborate and work together on projects.
We started using it last year, because we wanted a better way to organise information. Over time, people create lots of different folders, with lots of different information in different places. And that happens in most businesses, old information doesn't get updated, new information isn't easy to find.
Our internal application, Prism, is great at handling invoices and purchase orders, but it's not great at sharing information between people. Microsoft Teams is designed for exactly that. The idea being people can go to the application, and it's a one stop reference place for all the information they need. Every template, every form, every file - it's all there, in the right place.
Ok, so how does it work?
The application uses 'Teams' and 'Channels' to separate information. You can create a team for each subject - so we've got a team for recruitment, a team for products, a team for social events, that kind of thing. From there, you can add people to the team so they can access information within it. Our Recruitment Team, for example, has all of Transcendit's directors added.
Then within a team, you can create Channels. A Channel is just the next level down, a smaller section within a bigger group. In our Product Team for example, we have a Channel for FuseMail - one of the email security products we sell.
In each Channel, there are three default tabs. A communications tab, so you can chat with everyone else - this is similar to your Facebook wall. A files tab, so any relevant documents be uploaded and stored. And a wiki tab, which is all the information staff might need about the product or service.
Everything is right there in front of you, so you can get the information about a product, service or subject straight away. This saves people looking through heaps of folders and documents for answers - and it saves people constantly emailing answers to the same questions too!
Why should businesses start using Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams addresses a lot of common issues that businesses will encounter. When your business grows, it gets more and more difficult to communicate effectively with everyone. It's harder to collaborate on projects, because there are more staff contributing. More people need to be able to access the correct information.
Microsoft Teams is a great solution. Everything is all in one place; your basic information, the documents and spreadsheets staff need, and the conversations about that subject. It's easy to manage, and it's easy to update too; if a service or a product changes, you just edit the public page and then everyone in our office is up-to-date.
This application helps staff to communicate more effectively. If someone has a query about a product like FuseMail, for instance, in the past they might send a mass email out. They could get out of date information back from some people, or wrong information from others, and it can all get a bit confusing.
Now when someone has a query, they can go onto the FuseMail Channel and all the information is already there. If they have a question, they can start a conversation about it with everyone in the Product Team. And there's a clear record kept of that conversation, which everyone can refer back to. That information is then in a public space, rather than a private email.
Take our Recruitment Team, as another example. The interview forms are all in one place, the recruitment process is there, all the technical tests we use are there too. With the communications tab, we can have group conversations for everyone that we've interviewed. Each CV can be uploaded, every reference can be uploaded, and then all the Directors can access that information. It's an effective, modern approach to collaborating.
Will Microsoft Teams work alongside other applications?
Well, because its from Microsoft, Teams integrates a load of apps that businesses are likely to be using already. Outlook, for example. If you're having a conversation on the application, and want to make sure its seen by a certain person, you can tag their name in a post - and they'll get an email from Teams. Both apps work together.
If you want to add more apps, that's possible too. For some of our Channels, we added a Planner tab, that's actually another app in Office 365 which is a basic task manager. Using this you can set due dates, or assign a task to someone, all within Microsoft Teams. So you can check what everyone is working on really easily, you can see what progress is being made.
There are loads of apps available, you can just choose which you think will be useful for your business and your staff. And if you've got your own applications, you can add those to Channels as well. You can even add websites, as long as they're secure.
With all these features, is Teams easy to use?
It's incredibly user friendly, it's layout is very visual and it's easy to use. Everything is presented in a way that makes sense - you don't need to be computer literate to pick it up. If you are struggling to do something, there's a help feature 'T-Bot' which can answer any questions you have.
There's also a search function, so you don't need to manually track anything down - Microsoft Teams will do that part for you. There's an activity section - similar to Facebook notifications - where you can see what's been going on across all your Teams. Everything has been made with the user in mind. After a week, you'll wonder how you did without it.
What sort of business would you recommend Teams to?
Any business that wants to centralise and organise communications. Teams can really help with that, because it just streamlines everything. If a business has challenges with communicating or collaborating internally, Teams can be a really effective solution. If you have Microsoft Business Essentials, or any Microsoft software with hosted email, you'll already have Microsoft Teams.
Everybody has loads of information in their heads about technical stuff, programs, applications and the like. Getting that information written down and publishing it somewhere colleagues can access it easily, that just makes sense. Teams helps to take the pressure off your colleagues and your staff. It just makes everything a little bit easier.
If you'd like to find out how Microsoft Teams could help your business, give us a call on 0191 482 0444